Today “Page Six” reported that Elite Model Management is suing fellow model agency Next for stealing away its young star Karlie Kloss by offering her “improper compensation” to sign. Nowadays it would seem that agencies have pale, lanky 15-year-old girls growing out of the floorboards, so what difference does it make if an agency loses one to a rival? The difference, in this case, is Kloss herself: A look back at her career’s mind-boggling blowup over such a short period of time explains why agents would fight tooth and nail over the girl.
First and foremost, at just 15, Kloss is making serious money. By our count, she walked 31 shows in New York, 20 in Milan, and 13 in Paris — and that’s just for the fall 2008 collections. Sixty-four shows in a single season, and we’re not talking about inconsequential designers, either. To wit, with O denoting her opening a show and C, closing:
New York (31): 3.1 phillip lim, Alexander Wang, BCBG Max Azria, Calvin Klein, Carlos Miele, Caroline Herrera (O), Donna Karan, Doo.Ri (O&C), Erin Fetherston, Gap, Halston, Jason Wu, Jill Stuart (C), Jonathan Saunders, Malo, Marc by Marc Jacobs (C), Marc Jacobs, Matthew Williamson (C), Narciso Rodriguez, Nicole Miller, Proenza Schouler, Ohne Titel, Preen, Rebecca Taylor (O), Richard Chai, Rodarte, Temperley London, Thakoon, Vera Wang, Vera Wang Lavender Label, and Zac Posen.
Milan (20): 6267, Alberta Ferretti (C), Alessandro Dell’Acqua, Belstaff, Blumarine, Bottega Venetta, Derercuny, Dolce & Gabbana, Emilio Pucci (O&C), Gianfranco Ferré, Gucci, Jil Sander, Just Cavalli (C), Marni (O), Max Mara, Missoni, Pringle of Scotland (O&C), Roberto Cavalli, Sportmax, and Versace.
Paris (13): Celine, Chloé, Christian Dior, Costume National, Givenchy, Hermès, Jean Paul Gaultier, Karl Lagerfeld, Rue Du Mail, Sonia Rykiel, Sophia Kokosalaki, Valentino, Viktor & Rolf.
Suffice to say, Kloss has made her presence known on the catwalk. And then there’s the walk — how could you miss it? The zombie stare/glare, the swaying … not even Tyra could look away. (See her opening Carolina Herrera here.) Obviously, casting directors book it. Editors eat it up. And designers were impressed. “Karlie has a startling quality to her. She has a brilliant gaze, and you can not take your eyes off her while she walks,” say Rodarte’s Kate and Laura Mulleavy. “Karlie was all-around stunner, her body was killer. She can go from super edgy to supersweet,” notes Alexander Wang. She’s a “natural beauty with an edge as well as a signature walk,” praise Justin Thorton and Thea Bregazzi of Preen. And at just 15 to have a carved such a distinct niche in such a short amount of time is no small feat.
Meanwhile, Kloss’s print presence is growing. She’s been all over Teen Vogue for some time, and in February graduated to Vogue Italia. She’s prominently featured in Numéro’s April issue and Nina Ricci’s spring ads. Back from a little rest and school in St. Louis, Kloss will be shooting more in New York soon.
So Kloss is an in-demand workhorse, a profit-turning wunderkind — and did we mention she’s just 15? Yeah. For Elite to lose her to Next, no matter how it happened, it has to hurt. And it’s the sort of pain that only expensive lawyers and ugly litigation can soothe. —Kendall Herbst
Profile: Karlie Kloss
Earlier: Model Poaching: Elite Sues Next for Stealing Karlie Kloss
Related: Tyra Takes Her Claws to Karlie Kloss
Watch a video of Kloss opening Herrera’s fall 2008 show.